Many Grand Prix cities are well-known for their luxurious settings but when it comes to glitz and glamour, Abu Dhabi surely takes pole position. A glittering oasis of lux hotels, first rate spas and skyscrapers against an otherwise vast and empty desert, it’s no surprise it caught the attention of the racing set. But behind the show-stopping skyline is an innovative capital city alive with culture to discover.
AT A GLANCE
Abu Dhabi has come a long way since its humble village beginnings and is fast becoming the hottest cultural hub of the UAE for its eco, art and sporting credentials. A city that boasts a Ferrari theme park, ice spas and an internationally acclaimed race track, it’s as eccentric and exhilarating as neighbouring Dubai but minus the large crowds. And that’s not all, with new museums, malls and man-made isles on the cards, there’s more to come from this trailblazing city – the perfect destination for the trendsetting traveller.
WHAT TO SEE
It seems hardly a day goes by without a slick new hotel, restaurant or boutique popping up in this thriving desert metropolis, but there are a few that standout for us.
No trip to Abu Dhabi would be complete without a visit to the capital’s architectural jewel, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. The third largest mosque in the world and home to the largest crystal chandelier in the world (Swarovski of course), its majesty is enough to give the Taj Mahal a run for its money. Wandering through its marble halls and archways set in white, silver and gold is nothing short of dazzling and should set the tone for your Abu Dhabi experience.
Next, fashion followers should make a pit stop at one of the opulent shopping malls while thrill seekers can get their kicks hitting the tarmac with a private driving lesson at the Yas Marina Circuit. Even if you’re not a race lover, you’ll soon forget your daily grind thundering down the track. Feel like a slower pace? Head to the Saaduyat Beach Club for a secluded dip in the infinity pool or duck into the cool opulence of the Emirates Palace for some afternoon tea and indulge in finger sandwiches and Arabic pastries.
As the sun goes down enjoy a sunset stroll along the Corniche promenade and watch the city reflected in gold in the Gulf. Nightlife here is a more laid-back luxury than full throttle clubbing and once you’ve feasted at one of the many world class restaurants, it’s time to grab a cocktail. The new rotating Stratos bar atop Le Royal Meridien serves up some of the city’s best, together with 360 degree views over the city. If you’re a music lover, plan your trip between October and May to catch by some of the world’s greatest musicians and orchestras at the Abu Dhabi Classics concerts.
WHAT WE TRAVEL WITH
For a city as slick as this, you’ll need to look the part and Tumi’s sophisticated Square Duffel from the brand’s 40 year commemorative collection complements every outfit. Perfect for both the beach and in town, it’s the ideal balance between modern and causal to match Abu Dhabi’s lux vibe. Be sure to fill it with your compact camera for all those glam photo opportunities and always have a few chic cover-ups ready for knees and shoulders.